If you’re a conscious traveler, explorer or diver, you probably already have an idea that Oxybenzone found in many sunscreens bleach coral and kills larva at incredibly low concentrations. Please check reports online to be updated and know the best natural sunscreens out there.

What’s less known are the other chemicals we use on our bodies everyday, which are as important to the health of our oceans. According to statistics, the average person uses around 10 personal care products every day, with around 126 different ingredients.

Here are the few things you should look for on the labels. When you see these, avoid the product.


Parabens such as methylparaben, butylparaben, and propylparaben are used as preservatives in numerous sunscreens and personal care products. They are lethal to coral and suspected endocrine disruptors in humans.


Formaldehyde-releasing preservatives like DMDM Hydantoin, diazolidinyl urea, and quaternium 15 are used in many sunscreens and cosmetics. All of which have showed aquatic toxicity and estrogenic activity in humans.

Petrolatum | Mineral and Baby Oil

These are often used in many sunscreens as well as in body lotions, lip balms and hair products. Such don’t biodegrade and may be contaminated with hydrocarbons.

Cylopentasiloxane and Cyclomethicone

These are silicone-based ingredients often used in skin and hair products that have been demonstrated to be harmful to bio-accumulate in marine organisms.

Image: konaboys.com


This is a very popular ingredient in mineral-based sunscreens, which has a direct warning for marine toxicity. It is often recognizable by these words – goes on clear.

Lauramide DEA and Cocoamide DEA

These are foaming agents present in body wash and shampoos. They may cause nitrosamines in the environment and be harmful to fish and wildlife, as well as suspected carcinogens in humans.

Synthetic Fragrances

Artificial fragrances are toxic to fish and may cause developmental deficiencies that could obstruct feeding, as well as trigger allergies in humans.

Laureth Sulfate | Sodium Lauryl

These are commonly found in shampoos, body wash and toothpaste. There are considered to be ecotoxic and may cause a wide variety of issues for humans like headaches, nausea, diarrhea, coughing and a whole lot more.

While there are greater threats to out waters than sunscreens and other products we choose to use, these little things do add up. If we all start to be more conscious and do something with the knowledge that has been documented, we can greatly lessen the impact we have on the whole ecosystem. Let’s do our part one step at a time. It counts!